Record review: Arctic Monkeys mature on impressive new album ‘AM’ / 09.17.13 @ Paradise


Released September 10 on Domino Records, and currently streaming on iTunes. Photo by Zachary Michael

[dropcap]S[/dropcap]heffield garage rockers Arctic Monkeys are back with their fifth studio album, AM, and it’s a hard-rocking, yet at times funky, record that perfectly complements frontman Alex Turner’s recent greaser look. Clearly influenced by American rock, the Arctics are no longer the shaggy haired Britpop-influenced teens that hit the scene way back in 2006.

AM kicks off with the handclaps and dirty, bluesy guitar riff from “Do I Wanna Know,” the album’s second single. Followed by the rousing “R U Mine?,” AM’s overall style doesn’t deviate much from its singles. Some might dub the Arctic Monkeys’ current sound as “ladrock” – it’s easy to picture a group of lads drunkenly singing along to these songs in a pub.


The songs on AM are heavily laced with falsetto backing vocals (“One For the Road,” “I Want It All,” “Snap Out Of It”); perhaps this is an additional ode to the 1950s. The funky, hip hop-esque bass sound from single “Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High” also appears on the album regularly (“Knee Socks,” “Fireside”). The high-octane chorus of “Arabella” makes the listener almost forget that he or she is listening to a British band – it’s a distinctly American sound perhaps thanks in part to the fact that AM was recorded in California. Straying from the “ladrock” approach on the ironically named tracks “No. 1 Party Anthem” and “Mad Sounds,” the band takes it down a notch for some mellower music.

AM boasts an impressive list of guest appearances. Former Coral guitarist Bill Ryder-Jones lends his six strings to “Fireside,” while drummer Pete Thomas lends his sticks to “Mad Sounds.” Queens of the Stone Age front man Josh Homme contributes backing vocals to “Knee Socks” and “One For the Road.” AM’s closer “I Wanna Be Yours” is actually the poem of the same name by the legendary John Cooper Clarke set to music.

AM is a valiant effort from the Arctics, and Turner has clearly grown as a songwriter. The entire band seems to have matured showcasing how much they have evolved even since 2011’s Suck It and See. But AM is still a pop record at its core. Weekenders will still be looking good on the dance floor to indie anthems like “Snap Out Of It” then later nursing Sunday morning hangovers to “Mad Sounds.”


The Arctic Monkeys kick off their American tour in support of AM on September 16 at New York’s Webster Hall. The band hits the sold-out Paradise Rock Club here in Boston the following day before touring the rest of the US and Mexico through October.

RADIO 92.9 PRESENTS ARCTIC MONKEYS :: Tuesday, September 17 @ The Paradise Rock Club, 967 Commonwealth Ave., Boston :: 8pm, all-ages, sold out

RELATED: Watch the new Arctic Monkeys music video for ‘Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High’, August 12, 2013